THE FEASTS OF YHWH
Festivals are regular religious celebrations remembering Elohim's great acts of salvation in the history of his people. Traditionally called "feasts" in the English Bibles, these can conveniently be categorized according to the frequency of celebration. Many of these feasts or festivals were timed according to cycles of seven. The cycle of the week with its climax on the seventh day, provided the cyclical basis for much of Israel's worship; as the seventh day was observed, so was the seventh month (which contained three of the national festivals), and the seventh year, and the fiftieth year (the year of Jubilee), which followed seven cycles of seven years.
Everything that Elohim did or revealed in the Tanak was given as a shadow or an example of His finished plan of redemption. Nothing in the Bible is an afterthought or a new thing, but all of His actions or words were the acting out of a preordained drama. It can best be called the "Drama of Redemption." These seven major feasts are the prophetic picture of Yahushua HaMashiach and His redemption accomplished. The actual feasts are the simple rehearsals of that accomplishment and were used to allow Israel to receive the benefit of the Father’s eternal plan. Our Elohim does nothing for its dramatic effect, but if He did, these "Seven Feasts" would transcend the greatest masterpieces of human existence. They are breathtaking in both design and message. Each feast foreshadows a unique part of Elohim’s redemption story. Each feast is a complete message in itself, yet fits into the total picture in such a way that it would be incomplete to let it stand alone. Indeed the seven feasts together are Elohim’s redemption drama and the world will be His kingdom when the last curtain of the Feast of Tabernacles is lifted.
The term feasts in Hebrew (HaMoyadim) literally means "appointed times." Elohim has carefully planned and orchestrated the timing and sequence of each of these seven feasts to reveal to us a special story. These feasts are often called "holy convocations” (translated “rehearsal”) and are intended to be a time of meeting between Elohim and man for "holy purposes." Since these seven feasts of YHWH are "appointed times" for "set-apart purposes," they carry with them great sacredness and solemnity.
Four of the seven holidays occur during the springtime. The first four feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Weeks) have already been fulfilled by Yahushua in the New Testament. The final three holidays ( Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles) occur during the fall within a brief fifteen-day period in the Hebrew month of Tishri; Tishri corresponds to the months of September/October on the Gregorian calendar. These fall feasts have not yet been fulfilled. However, these events most assuredly will unfold in Elohim’s timing. As the four spring feasts (holidays) were fulfilled literally and right on schedule in connection with Messiah's first coming, these three fall feasts (holidays) will likewise be fulfilled literally and right on schedule in connection to the Messiah's second coming. These final three feasts form the basis for what the Bible calls in Titus 2:13: "the blessed hope."
Leviticus 23:4 “‘These are YHWH’S appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times:
Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great Elohim and Savior, Yahushua Messiah,
Important Points About the Feasts
- They were given to the nation of Israel by Elohim as a covenant.
- They were based on the Hebrew Biblical lunar (moon) calendar which consists of approximately 354 days in a year.
- They relate to Israel's spring and fall agricultural seasons; after all, Israel was and still is largely an agricultural nation.
- They typify the timing, sequence, and significance of the major events of YHWH's redemptive career. They begin at Calvary where Yahushua voluntarily laid down His life for the sins of mankind (symbolic of Passover) and end when Yahuahua establishes His messianic Kingdom at His second coming (symbolic of Tabernacles). YHWH in His infinite wisdom made these appointed feasts conform to specific events in the life of His Son Yahushua HaMashiach.
- Since these feasts are clearly fulfilled in Messiah, every creature is presented the unique opportunity to "meet" with YHWH and receive His gracious blessings.
- There is a binding relationship between the true Church and Israel even though both are distinct entities with diverse promises. Thanks to the Abrahamic, Davidic, and Renewed Covenants which YHWH made with Israel, the blessings stemming from these feasts are no longer exclusive to the Jewish people alone but are extended to the Gentiles as well, for YHWH's unconditional covenant with Abraham promised that "In thy (Abraham's) seed shall all nations be blessed"
Genesis 22:18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
- There are a total number of seven feasts of YHWH. Seven is the biblical number for completion. It is recorded in Genesis chapter one that Elohim rested on the seventh day after creating the heavens and the earth, not due to fatigue but rather to emphasize completion and satisfaction. What Elohim created was "good" and "satisfying"; therefore nothing else was needed.
A common problem during the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek was that the translators, though fluent in Hebrew and Greek were not Jews and inserted words or passages into the text to clarify their intent. Imagine the Hebrew Apostle John writing to his fellow Hebrews and saying the following:
John 2:13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
John 7:2 But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near,
Now why would a Jewish writer, writing for the mostly Hebrew church, insert the word Jewish into the text? He and his audience grew up with the Feasts. They knew that they were the Feasts of YHWH because the Torah told them so. Besides, there was no such word as ‘Jew’ during those times.
This is an example of how error has entered into the modern translations. Fortunately, there are serious scholars today and newly found ancient documents, including one copy of Matthew’s Gospel in the original Hebrew, to shed light on how and why these changes were made.
The Old Testament Foretold God’s Plan
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Torah until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-20
The “Law” Was a Tutor
Is the Torah, therefore, opposed to the promises of Elohim? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the Torah. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Yahushua Messiah, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Messiah that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of Elohim through faith in Messiah Yahushua, for all of you who were baptized into Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yahushua. If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:21-29
We are not to become lawless (Gr. Anomia = without Torah) because the tutor finished its job. We are to move up to the higher level of the Lawgiver Himself that now abides in our life to effect the Torah by grace instead of works. The Torah is our teacher to bring us to Messiah. The feasts were his object lessons to show us the dramatic effect of His Torah. Every truth in the Torah was to manifest itself in the feasts so that Israel would have a witness of the fulfillment when it occurred.
The Jewish leaders and people allowed the feasts to become rituals instead of revelations and because of that they rejected the fulfillment or completion of the first four feasts. How did they miss seeing Yahushua as their Passover Lamb? Everything that the Passover Lamb suggested or typified, Messiah fulfilled. As we look at the life of Yahushua Messiah and his death and the numerous perfect expressions of the Passover Feast, we are amazed at such precision. But, remember they missed it because of ritualism and tradition and we see it because of revelation. This is a spiritual fact in all truth that never fails.
The Hebrew Biblical Calendar
The Hebrew calendar now in use, has undergone some adjustment, to keep it in alignment with the solar year, thus keeping the feast of Passover precisely at the equinox. It should also be noted that the Scriptural day begins at sunset around 6 p.m.(in Israel), or at the appearance of the first evening star. As the Scripture states, “And the evening and the morning were the first day (Gen 1:5). The 7th day, the Sabbath, commences on Friday evening approximately 6 p.m.
All ancient calendars were made up of 360 days until 701 BC. At that time something happened in the universe that started the process of change until the 365 1/4 day calendar was finalized in 1582 AD by Pope Gregory XIII. The Jewish day also begins at sunset and ends at sunset according to the account in Genesis. The Hebrew calendar is set annually by determining the new moon. This keeps the feast days at their precise location in the pattern set by Holy Scripture. Recently, in the 7th millennium, after many years of work with astronomers, chronologists, physicists, Hebrew scholars and super computers, the Astronomically and Agriculturally Corrected Hebrew Biblical Calendar has been restored. We now know again what our Creator’s reckoning of time is.
Genesis 1:5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
The Pattern of the Feasts
2. Feast of Unleavened Bread
3. Feast of Firstfruits
4. Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)
5. Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)
6. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
7. Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths
The Sabbath day of rest is actually the most important day set aside by YHWH. It is pre-Mosaic, stretching all the way back to the beginning of creation. Right after creating the universe, our Elohim blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart for rest and worship. Many of the feast days are special Sabbaths.
By the seventh day Elohim had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And Elohim blessed the seventh day and made it set apart, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2-3
Note this Scripture: YHWH tells man to work six days, then he is to rest on the seventh day. The seventh day is YHWH's Day, a day that Elohim has set aside to be His day, a day in which man is to focus entirely upon YHWH.
The Sabbath is to be a day of complete rest.
1. It is to be a day of physical restoration, a day when the human body is allowed to restore itself.
2. Man's mind and body need to relax and rest; to be free from the duties, responsibilities, pressure and tensions of day to day work.
The Sabbath rest is a symbol of the spiritual rest that YHWH promises to those who believe and follow Him.
The Sabbath rest is a symbol of redemption, of YHWH's deliverance from the heavy burdens and trials of this life.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of Elohim; for anyone who enters Elohim’s rest also rests from his own work, just as Elohim did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it set-apart. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to YHWH your Elohim. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days YHWH made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore YHWH blessed the Sabbath day and made it set-apart. Exodus 20:8-11
The Sabbath day is a day set aside for worship.
Note exactly what the above verse says: the Sabbath day is a day of holy convocation, a day of sacred assembly, a day when YHWH's people are to come together and assemble for worship.
YHWH told His people what the focus of their worship was to be: they were to focus upon their redemption from Egypt (the world).
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that YHWH your Elohim brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore YHWH your Elohim has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. Deuteronomy 5:15
Remember: for the “Christian” believer, Egypt is a symbol of the world. Therefore, the focus of worship is to be upon YHWH's redemption, His salvation and deliverance from the world and its enslavements.
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 2 Corinthians 1:10
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15
The Four Spring Feasts
Leviticus 23:4-14 “‘These are YHWH’S appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: YHWH’S Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month YHWH’S Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to YHWH by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’” YHWH said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before YHWH so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to YHWH a lamb a year old without defect, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil—an offering made to YHWH by fire, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your Elohim. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
The three spring feasts, Passover; Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Feast of Firstfruits, were closely connected, taking place during an eight day holiday period. The fourth feast, The Feast of Weeks, was held seven weeks after the Feast of Firstfruits.
The Passover is observed on the 14th day of the first month (Nisan) of the Hebrew sacred calendar. On the very next day, the 15th of Nisan, the Feast of Unleavened bread commences and lasts for seven days. Somewhere in that week there is a weekly Sabbath, the last day of the normal week. The very next day, the first day of the week, the Feast of Firstfruits is observed.
o The Passover - Pesach
o The Feast of Unleavened Bread – Hag HaMatzah
o The Feast of First Fruits – Yom HaBikkurim
o The Feast of Weeks - Shavout
The Three Fall Feasts
The remaining three feasts, which are all held in the same month of Tishri during the fall harvest, are the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths.
o The Feast of Trumpets – Yom T’Ruach
o The Day of Atonement - Yom Kippur
o The Feast of Tabernacles – Succoth
YHWH said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to YHWH by fire.’” YHWH said to Moses, “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to YHWH by fire. Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before YHWH your Elohim. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.” YHWH said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month YHWH’S Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to YHWH by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to YHWH by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work. (“‘These are YHWH’S appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to YHWH by fire—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for YHWH’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to YHWH.) “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to YHWH for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before YHWH your Elohim for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to YHWH for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am YHWH your Elohim.’” Leviticus 23:23-43